Three killed when private jet crashes into DC-area home

The jet was on final approach to Montgomery County Airpark in the Washington, D.C. Maryland suburbs Monday morning when the crash occurred.

Jose Luis Magana/AP
Firefighters stand outside a house in Gaithersbug, Md., Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, where a small plane crashed. A small, private jet has crashed into a house in Maryland's Montgomery County, and a fire official says at least three people on board were killed.

A small, private jet crashed into a house in Maryland's Montgomery County on Monday, killing at least three people on board, authorities said.

Preliminary information indicates at least three people were on board and didn't survive the Monday crash into home in Gaithersburg, a Washington, D.C. suburb, said Pete Piringer, a Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesman.

He said a fourth person may have been aboard.

Piringer said the jet crashed into one home around 11 a.m., setting it and two others on fire. Crews had the fire under control within an hour and were searching for anyone who may have been in the homes.

Fred Pedreira, 67, who lives near the crash, said he had just returned home from the grocery store and was parking his car when he saw the jet and immediately knew something was wrong.

"This guy, when I saw him, for a fast jet with the wheels down, I said, 'I think he's coming in too low,'" Pedreira told The Associated Press. "Then he was 90 degrees — sideways — and then he went belly-up into the house and it was a ball of fire. It was terrible.

"I tell you, I got goosebumps when I saw it. I said, 'My God, those are people in that plane," Pedreira said. "I just hope nobody was in that home."

Byron Valencia, 31, who also lives nearby, told The AP that he was in his kitchen when he heard a jet engine flying overhead, and then a big thump shortly after.

"When I opened my window, I could see smoke over the trees and I heard a small explosion, like a pop," he said. "I could see the smoke rising ... It's scary."

Emily Gradwohl, 22, who lives two doors down from the house the jet hit, was home at the time of the crash and ran outside to see what had happened.

"I heard like a loud crash, and the whole house just shook," Gradwohl told The AP. "We got jackets on, ran outside and saw one of the houses completely set on fire."

She said planes fly low over the neighborhood every day but she had never worried about a crash until now.

An FAA spokesman said preliminary information shows the Embraer EMB-500/Phenom 100 twin-engine jet was on approach at the nearby Montgomery County Airpark. The National Transportation Safety Board is sending an investigator to the scene.

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